FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Buffalo Soldiers, America's all-Black army units--may have disbanded about 70 years ago, but a group of veterans in Fayetteville is keeping their memory alive through their motorcycle club.
"These men and women was willing to serve this country although this country wasn't willing to serve them or protect them," said Anor 'Chief' Burnside, the President of the National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club (NABSTMC), Fayetteville chapter.
"The history is rich and it's storied and it's important," said Ernest 'Fat Daddy' White, the Sergeant at Arms of NABSTMC or Buffalo Soldiers MC Fayetteville. "We ride to make sure people remember."
The bikers gather each month for motorcycle rides and community service to bond through the country's largest Black motorcycle club. However, members say the club is open to people of all races. Members also say they enjoy commemorating the Black servicemen who paved the way for their military service back in the 1800S.
The Buffalo Soldiers' story starts in 1866 when Congress created six all-Black army units to protect the country's expanding Western border. They were nicknamed "Buffalo soldiers" after one soldier had a legendary battle with a band of Cheyenne warriors.
"Cheyenne Warriors went and told the other warriors stories about a unique soldier they had just encountered who fought like a cornered buffalo," said Tommie 'TJ' Hallman, a member of Buffalo Soldiers MC Fayetteville, "and who like the buffalo when wounded time and time again did not die but kept fighting fiercely."
Nearly two centuries later, hundreds of the soldiers' namesakes now ride "iron horses" or motorcycles in their honor through the national motorcycle club. Members wear biker vests to recognize their own military service and adventures through the club. The Fayetteville chapter tells ABC11 that riding motorcycles builds a sense of belonging and energizes their community service.
"The organization has been around now for over 20 years here in Fayetteville and it's contributed to the community quite significantly. It's been wherever they have been needed to be," said Marion 'G' Garvin, a lifetime member of the Buffalo Soldiers MC Fayetteville. "We are trying to perpetuate the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers of 1866. And we're trying to keep that legacy alive through contribution to people and contribution to society itself."
The motorcyclists also get to teach people--especially young people of color--the history of the Buffalo Soldiers through their club.
"Not only young people are learning about the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, but you'd be surprised we run into adults that have never heard about the ninth and tenth Cavalry," Burnside said. "(I)t's important that we teach our young adults, our children, the history of America and to especially our children of color. So, they will understand that, you know, that there were men and women that looked just like them that did great things for the United States."
The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston, Texas is the only museum in the country dedicated primarily to showcasing Black military history from the present, all the way back to the time of the Buffalo Soldiers.